I read Desiring the Kingdom earlier this year, and have been thinking a lot about how the ideas of thick and thin practices and the true purpose of Christian education apply to me, a lowly first-year instructor at Christian college full of ambitious students who tend more toward workaholism than slacker-ness.
One thing I’ve realized is that it’s probably unwise for me to assign deadlines on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, as I know students (having been one not long ago) and know that they’ll save their work till Sunday. While I can’t have too much effect on their other classwork, I can refrain from practicing that bad habit in my own class.
I’m also planning to spend a week having them write about Sabbath in New York City and read some articles on the topic as we’re contemplating poetry. And it looks like I’ll be doing a “breakout session” at their student retreat in September dealing with the practice of Sabbath, so I’m continuing to think about this.
In my undergrad, I did what most of my fellow students did—pretend to practice Sabbath on Friday night into Saturday, which really just meant staying up really late having fun on Friday night, then sleeping in until noon on Saturday, then diving head-first into the pile of work with only a quick break for church Sunday morning. And I burned out, big time. I could barely read a book when I finished college. I did well. But I didn’t see the value of Sabbath—I was relying on myself to get everything done.
In grad school—having gotten married in the interim, and working several other jobs and freelancing while studying—I decided I wouldn’t work on Sunday, and I’ve kept that practice up. And I felt curiously, and marvelously, rested through the whole thing. I’ll continue this practice if I continue my studies, God willing. Suddenly I know that my ability to finish everything I need to do rests on God, not on me. And I inexplicably have more time in my day.
But I’m still pondering, and so I ask: what can I do to help my students develop the “thick practice” of Sabbath in their lives?